Three years after Brexit, how many Brits have to leave the Netherlands?

Immigration control at Schiphol airport. Photo:
Immigration control at Schiphol airport. Photo:

The Netherlands is one of the European countries with the highest number of British citizens ordered to leave since Brexit, according to data by the European statistical office Eurostat.

But the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) told Dutch News the number of people who actually had to go is lower than the 615 reported by the European agency up to the end of September last year.

Under the withdrawal agreement, the 45,000 British citizens who were living in the Netherlands before 31 December 2020 had to apply for a new residence permit to stay in the country. Britons arriving after that date must apply for a regular work and residence permit.

If a residence application is rejected or a permit is withdrawn, the person can be ordered to leave, which technically means they are in the Netherlands illegally. However, you can still apply for a residence permit, if you did not have one, and you can appeal if your application is rejected without leaving the country.

In total, although 615 British nationals were told to leave the Netherlands between 2021 and the third quarter of 2022, just 10 were actually deported, the immigration service IND told Dutch News. A further 60 people are known to have gone voluntarily but others may also have gone without reporting back to the police.

The IND said that 90% of the decisions to leave handed to British citizens were decided by the IND itself and 10% by the police and border police.

Almost half (48%) of the IND decisions stemmed from rejections of residence permit applications under the Brexit agreement because the person was not residing in the Netherlands before 1 January 2021 or because they had been away longer than permitted.

Some 70 Britons received an order to leave but were later given a residence permit under the withdrawal agreement, the IND said.

A further 16% of the orders to leave were due to the rejection of a combined work and residence permit application, 8% were down to a failed application for a residence permit and 15% to the withdrawal of a residence permit under regular rules that apply to Britons arriving after Brexit. The remaining 13% of cases were due to other reasons.


According to Eurostat data, about 2,250 British citizens were ordered to leave EU countries between 2021 and September 2022, and 1,340 sent back. In both cases Sweden represents the highest number.

Figures from the national statistics agency show there are nearly 98,000 first and second generation British nationals living in the Netherlands, of whom 56,500 were born in the UK. That is a rise of 13,000 from 2016, when the Brexit referendum took place.

The British embassy in the Netherlands told Dutch News it had received a small number of enquiries related to residency in the Netherlands in the past year. ‘Our consular section continues to be available to provide support,’ the embassy said.

This article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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